Matter - Practical example of a smart indoor greenhouse (Part 2)

Philipp Manstein

Philipp Manstein – Flutter Developer

At grandcentrix, we not only make IoT happen in our day-to-day work, but also in our private lives via hobby projects. I would like to tell you about my latest one in this article.

I have long been fascinated by plants of all kinds, whether it be houseplants or fresh herbs for the kitchen. However, I don’t have a green thumb, so it happens all too often that the plants die because they don’t get any or too much attention. Even reminders on the phone can be closed quickly or put off until tomorrow.

Therefore, automation is needed to make sure that the plants can grow under optimal conditions, and I only must act in an emergency. As a software developer and maker, this is a problem that I can solve in a technical way. Previous hobby projects with a large cloud infrastructure have been a lot of fun to develop but are honestly unnecessarily complex for everyday use. I don’t need to know how the plants are doing when I’m out and about and extensions such as new hardware or other automation must be solved in a complex and individual way through code. My requirements are that current data should be available locally, additional hardware should be easy to add to the system and automations should be easy to create. The smart home and IoT device protocol “Matter” is perfect for this!

That’s why I continued my hobby project “PlantCabinet🪴 Controller” as part of the “Make it Matter!” competition organized by Nordic Semiconductor and My project won the “Wildcard” prize.

The controller makes it possible to create the optimal conditions for the growth and care of various plants in an indoor greenhouse, such as a plant cabinet. Thanks to the PlantCabinet🪴 controller, everything from growing young seedlings to caring for tropical plants is possible without much effort. The controller operates an LED lamp whose light spectrum is optimized for plant growth. A fan ensures continuous air flow which is essential for healthy plant growth. It also makes it possible to measure the temperature and humidity inside the plant cabinet, which means that conditions can always be kept within the optimum range.

The brain of the PlantCabinet🪴 controller is the nRF7002-DK, a development board by Nordic Semiconductor that is perfect for prototyping Matter applications. Equipped with an nRF5340 chip, which can address various sensors and communicate with Bluetooth LE, and an nRF7002 chip for Wifi communication, the controller can speaks Matter via Wifi and Thread.

To further improve the user-friendliness of the PlantCabinet🪴 controller, a mobile Flutter app has been developed. This app makes it possible to manage multiple indoor greenhouses and view the status and values of the sensors and actuators in real time. A customized display shows the data accompanied by specially developed and animated widgets, making the app an indispensable companion for me.

The PlantCabinet🪴 controller is a perfect example of when it’s worth developing a custom app for a Matter smart home device. The individual design of the elements makes it much easier to read the current state and it would also be possible to give recommendations on how to deal with high or low humidity, for example.

Furthermore, there is the advantage that Matter devices can be cnnected to various apps and devices. This makes it possible to expand the plant showcase with additional actuators and sensors and to further optimize and automate the plants’ habitat according to their individual needs. One example for this would be the integration of the PlantCabinet🪴 Controller into Apple Home and/or Google Home and connect it to a smart Matter socket that controls a humidifier. This way, automation can prevent low humidity levels. Another example would be the implementation of automatic watering of plants. A Matter socket switches on a small water pump when required and can thus supply the plants with water from a reservoir. Integration into Amazon’s Alexa, for example, would also make it possible to water by voice command.

Countless other ideas are possible and thus offer individual expansion options.

It turns out that thanks to the use of Matter, my requirements have been fully met. The great thing is that countless other ideas for automation are possible thanks to Matter’s platform and manufacturer independence. For example, Matter devices offer the option of individually expanding the functions of the indoor greenhouse as required.

You can find out more about the PlantCabinet🪴 Controller here.

Patrick Sernetz

Do you have any questions or would you like to realise a Matter project?

Patrick Sernetz – Head of Solution Architecture

Hi, I'm Patrick. Do you have any questions about Matter? Feel free to contact me by e-mail.